Hudson Stone Carter, you are three years old and I don’t know how that happened! You are smart, brave, curious, and SO funny. You’re my wild child, always keeping me on my toes and my anxiety at an all time high, but your intense love and best hugs more than make up for my premature aging.
Hudson is OBSESSED with race cars, so I’ve known for quite some time that big boy was going to have a race car party. Weekend morning consist of early wake ups (for them, not me) and breakfast while watching Formula 1 races. I know, those morning will be some of Ryan’s favorite memories looking back on the kids’ childhoods. Speaking of that genius husband of mine…he thought of Hudson’s Grand Three as a play on Grand Prix, and I fell in love with him all over again. How did I get so lucky with these boys of mine?! 😍
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Rev Your Engines…It’s Party Time!
I wanted to really focus on black and white for this party, and add pops of red here and there. Hudson’s favorite race car is Ferrari so we had to have red! These invites from my girl, Nicole, at Palm to Pine Design were perfection. They gave that modern, simple feel that I love while still playing into the fun theme of a 3 year old’s birthday party! Nicole also made the large Rev Your Engine vinyl banner, the VIP pass lanyards and the stickers for the trophies…all seen in upcoming pics and all linked to purchase in the Race Car Party Plan!
I really wanted to bring the race track to my backyard, but in the easiest and most budget friendly way possible of course!
I knew I wanted a podium with a backdrop for photo opportunities. That and the dessert table were my two biggest places I focused on. Whenever I’m planning a party, especially a kid’s party, I try and focus on one or two areas to really put my efforts into. The rest I tie the theme in, especially with activities, but I don’t go all out for all areas of the party. I have found that it’s just not necessary, gets overlooked and at the end of the day, it just adds up too much! Also, keep in mind your theme. Chances are I’m never going to have another race car party, and I can’t repurpose a ton of themed things…that’s why I really went with one or two key areas and stuck to mostly white and black bigger pieces so I could use them again for other parties.
Links to purchase all supplies, both DIY tutorials and ready to buy options are all waiting for you inside your Race Car Party Plan! All the thinking and hunting for items is done for you, your only job is to click the link and checkout! 🙌🏼
The Winners Circle
I usually have one area of the party where I need to enlist the help of my handsome handy man hubby. This podium was the winner! I thought it would be the cutest thing for the kids to stand on holding their little trophies after racing! The checker flag backdrop was CRAZY easy and probably the cheapest piece of decor at the whole party- and definitely the biggest and most impactful! Full tutorials on how to create your own podium and backdrop can be found in the Race Car Party Plan! DIY not your jam? Don’t worry- I’ve found darling options to purchase ready made decor instead!
Every party I ever plan includes outfit options for either the little one being celebrated, or the host (it takes work hosting a shower so I’m always in the camp of treating yourself!). Funny enough, this is the page in Party Plans I get the most feedback and appreciation for. Outfit can often be a last minute oversight, but your kid wears them the whole party so I love when they go well with the theme.
Hudson wore a race car driver costume and also had a race car t shirt underneath because it was a hot day…but shocker, he chose to wear the suit basically the whole party! I made Pit Crew t-shirts with the Cricut and some basic red tees I found on Amazon for Ryan, Evie and I. Loved how we were all on theme! All my family matchy match dreams come true.
Could that little race car driver of mine be any cuter?!
The best part about going to a stadium to watch a race? Concessions, duh. I wanted to have a fun and easy concession stand for guests’ lunch! Hot dogs, chips, pretzels, fruit, etc. Super easy, barely any cooking or prep work for me, and a hit for everyone! Party Plans have full menu plans with recipes and ideas, in addition to beverages/cocktails and desserts!
What’s your favorite concession stand food? I’m a sucker for pretzels dipped in that fake cheeses sauce…YUM.
My rule of thumb for ANY party? Keep the food super simple. Don’t try and cook a bunch on party day, especially for a kid’s party. Store bought, delivered pizza, catered, make ahead- all a mama’s party day best friend. It is very rare that I cook anything for parties. I’ll assemble things like pasta salads, sandwiches, etc. but nothing that needs to to be hot and timed just right. Take that stress off your plate!
One of my favorite parts of any party I host and Party Plan I design is the tabletop page! I LOVE party supplies and table settings. I feel like they are such an easy way to tie in the party’s theme while not breaking the bank! Often times I’ll buy a pack or two of the cute themed plates, cups or napkins and then will fill in with basics like red or black solid plates to help with my budget. Everything you see on the Setting the Table page from the Race Car Party Plan is linked and ready for you! All you need to do is find the items you want on your table, click it, add to cart, and get ready to party!
The road tape on these kid’s tables were probably my favorite little detail. Sometimes kids get a little ansty sitting and waiting for their food, especially a bunch of 3 year olds! This road tape along with some red buckets of toy cars was the perfect little lunch time activity! Lots of kids were playing at the table without even eating because they loved the cars so much!
Party Activities: Ready, Set, RACE!
This giant vinyl banner from Palm to Pine Design was the perfect starting line for our car races! My husband is a former Tesla employee and Evie and Hud LOVE racing their own Tesla around the backyard! Unfortunately, they are getting a little too big (and annoying-sibling struggle is real) to keep sharing so Hudson’s birthday gift was his own new car…and yes…now I have the kids that drive a Tesla and Ferrari. Could we be any more extra? Ridiculous BUT a present that doubles as a party activity? And then one they can use independently occupying themselves in the backyard for hours? SCORE.
We set up a little track in the backyard for kids to race the cars, and to my surprise, Hud did an outstanding job of sharing! The pic below is him seeing his Ferrari for the first time! 😍
Driving in the cars occupied those kids the WHOLE party. There was very little drama too! Great entertainment and parents got to relax and enjoy themselves so win all around!
The second activity I had set up were these Hot Wheels race tracks Ryan made. Instructions and tutorials for making your own are in the Race Car Party Plan, but it was super easy and again, road tape for the win! This is still being used in our backyard as an outside toy! Hudson can race those cars down the ramp happy as can be for a looooong time with no complaints from me!
I really try to be super intentional about the activities chosen for parties. Will they use or do this again? Can it double as a favor? Do parents need to be involved? I usually choose 3-4 activities per party for parents to choose from. Some parents and kids love to be a little crafty, some like to be up moving around and some don’t want to do anything at all! The best part about getting help from a Party Plan is that first, you don’t have to think of the ideas- it’s all done for you with links to purchase all the supplies, but second, you get to choose your own adventure! Pick one or two that seen fun and easy and forget the rest! You do you and it’ll be fun either way!
The Sweets: Dessert Table
When your husband is as obsessed with cars as your son and uses Pennzoil cans as garage garbage cans…you make a table out of them for the Grand Three Race Car Birthday you’re hosting! I am in love with how this dessert table turned out, and I’m pretty sure it’s Ryan’s favorite I’ve done also!
Pennzoil cans held up a piece of plywood painted black for the table. I used an old toolbox of my father in law’s as a riser and shelf for goodies too! The rest of the serving pieces were all black, white or galvanized, and all things I already had sitting at my house! Nothing except for the Hudson’s Grand Three poster (and food) were purchased for this table! Always, always, ALWAYS shop your house…or your friend’s. Please don’t go out and waste a bunch of money on super themey decor that you’ll never use again. Stick to the basics and tie in your theme thoughtfully. That’s my number one tip for saving money at a party!
Other dessert table tricks?
1. Don’t put 10 different sweets on the table- it overwhelms your guests and is a waste of money because no one eats it all! Stick to 3-5 treats.
2. Bake one thing (if you want) and assemble/buy the rest
3. Start in the middle with your biggest item, I call this your WOW piece, and work your way out during set up
4. I’ve got a full free resource all about dessert tables too! It has all my best tips and tricks for setting up those beautiful Pinterest worthy table without you banging your head against the wall or spending WAY too much money. Download your free guide to dessert tables below!
I’m very blessed to have a party loving graphic designer be one of my best friends. Nicole with Palm to Pine Design is a master at taking the crazy ideas living in my head and bringing them to life. Let me give you a little sneak peek into the conversation that led to this brilliant custom Grand Prix style poster!
Me: Heyyyy, so you know how Grand Prixs have their own unique posters for the city that hosts the race??
Me: So…do you think we could do that for Hud? Modern red race car, Hudson’s Grand Three…oh and Seattle in the background would be epic! *please say yes, please say yes*
Nicole: Sure…I’ll get right on that 😐
LOOK AT WHAT SHE MADE! 🤯🤯
It literally blew me away and I almost started to cry. I know (and benefit from) how talented Nicole is more than anyone, but holy crap, she nailed this one.
One more little tip? Take the glass out of your frames if you’re taking family pics at your party. You always want a pic of your kid with their birthday cake…and a big glaring reflection on the frame is always a bummer!
If we’ve been friends for awhile now, you know I don’t bake. No interest, no skill, no good. It’s the first thing I outsource for a party and one of my favorite Seattle bakers is Kayla at Seatown Sweets! She did such an epic job on the checkered flag cake and race car themed sugar cookies! I LOVED how they turned out and her desserts are insanely delicious. I’ve tried and worked with a ton of bakers, and just because desserts look good…doesn’t mean they taste good. Kayla’s check both boxes all the time. I can’t recommend her enough!
Remember that whole no cooking thing I talked about before? Yep. Same goes with desserts. Store bought and assemble only are YOUR FRIEND. Easy to assemble snack mix, store bought donuts (tires), and concession stand candy bars made this table perfect…and the easiest I’ve ever set up!
Wondering how you think of these cute ideas with their fun themed names? No worries. Party Plans do all that thinking for you. I break down the whole dessert table, give you ideas and recipes on what to put on it that fit the theme, then tell you exactly how to set it up so it takes your guest’s breath away when they walk in! They are so much easier than they look, I promise!
Happy 3rd birthday, my sweet baby boy! Make this your best year and wish yet!
Thanks You’s and Party Favors
As a than for you being part of Hudson’s special Pit Crew, guests got to wear custom VIP pass lanyards and tae home a first place trophy! I actually wasn’t sure if the kids would think these trophies were cool or not…but I got SO many texts from parents that night saying their kids went to bed holding them! 🤣
Favors can always be a little tricky when it comes to parties. Do you do them at all? What should I give that isn’t junk or sugar? Often times favors can be super wasteful. In all parties that I help busy moms plan, I always think of 5+ party favor ideas that are affordable but useful, fit the theme and that I would actually like my kid to bring home as a parent. Gone are the days of goodie bags full of little plastic things that get broken or thrown away within minutes.
A First Place Day!
This smile is what it’s all about. My favorite moment at any party is when my kids walk out to the backyard and see it all come to life. They talk about their parties for months, they help with the prep and see the items as they get ready for party day…but there’s nothing like seeing their wide eyes and giant grins when they walk into a space full of their absolute favorite thing in the world- in this case, race car wonderland for Hud!
The parties I throw for my kids, and those that I help other busy mamas take off their plate, are integral chapters to a family’s story. They hold space for where your kid is at this exact moment in time. In Hudson’s 3rd year of life…he is race car obsessed, just like his daddy They wake up early on weekends to watch F1 races, they tinker on cars in the garage, point out cool cars that whizz by on the freeway, and are always racing things with wheels around the house. That’s his life right now, and in 20 years when I think back on this sweet boy with his floppy blonde hair and toothy smile and look at pics of his fun birthday party, I can put myself right back in this moment in time and remember his intense love for race cars.
I can help you capture those moments and memories for your family too. No need to stress over the time you don’t have to plan a party for your kid- it’s planned for you, mama. No more worrying you aren’t creative enough, or talented enough, or any of the enoughs that constantly run through our minds on a daily basis. The planning and legwork is already done. All you need to do is click through the things you want at your party, invite your guests, and host. That’s the fun part, and I’m excited to pass that baton on to you! Together, we can create an amazing celebration for you and your sweet family!
Photography: Aleks Lopez
Invitations and Paper Goods: Palm to Pine Designs
Desserts: Seatown Sweets
Party Supplies and Tabletop: Oriental Trading
Party Ideas and Styling: Allison Carter Celebrates